Xylophobia: symptoms, causes and treatment

Xylophobia, also known as hilophobiaIt is the persistent and intense fear of wooden objects, or materials that simulate it, as well as in wooded areas. Although rare, it is a phobia specific to a natural environment, which can be linked to the dangers associated with forests.

Here is what xylophobia is along with its main symptoms and some strategies to counter it.

    Xylophobia: fear of wood

    The term xylophobia is made up of the Greek word “xilo” (xylon), which means wood, and “phobos” which means fear. This is a persistent and excessive fear of wood, Its characteristics (smell, texture) and the objects which derive from it. She is also characterized by a fear of forests and materials that simulate wood.

    Being a phobia, the trigger is a part of nature, xylophobia can be defined as a phobia specific to the natural environment. As such, there has been little or no study since it rarely manifests.

    What can happen most often is that it is a fear that concerns others, for example, situational. These are persistent fears in certain circumstances or places, such as in forests or open spaces. In this case, xylophobia can be related not only to wood, but to darkness, large open spaces, uncertainty, animals, to lose, etc.

    Characteristics and main symptoms

    When we are faced with situations that represent a danger, real or perceivedOur bodies alert us in different ways. Specifically, it activates a part of our nerve cells known as the autonomic nervous system, which regulates the involuntary functions of our body.

    These functions include, for example, visceral activity, respiratory rate, sweating or palpitations. All these reactions, which are linked to fear, allow us to set in motion a series of adaptive behaviors, that is to say, they allow us to respond proportionately to possible prejudices.

    But, it can also happen that the above reactions are presented in a disproportionate way, preventing us from generating adaptive responses and having a significant impact on our experiences in terms of stimuli.

    Specifically, specific phobias such as xylophobia are characterized by a response of activated anxiety about exposure to the stimulus which is perceived to be harmful. So, xylophobia can be manifested mainly by the following symptoms: tachycardia, increased blood pressure, sweating, decreased gastric activity, palpitations, hyperventilation.

    In the same way and in the event of activation of the part of the autonomic nervous system called the “parasympathetic nervous system”, xylophobia can generate physiological responses associated with disgust, Such as cardiovascular slowdown, dry mouth, nausea, upset stomach, dizziness and decreased temperature.

    The above symptomatology varies depending on whether the specific phobia concerns a situation, an environmental element, animals, injuries or any other type. Depending on the case, another possible manifestation is the presence of a panic attack.

    On the other hand, the presence of secondary behaviors is common, which resemble those that the person performs to protect themselves from the harmful stimulus and prevent the anxious response. This is defensive and avoidant behaviors (Do your best not to be exposed to the noxious stimulus) and hypervigilance over related situations or items. Added to the above is the perception that you do not have the resources to deal with the feared stimulus, which can worsen the anxiety response and increase avoidant behaviors.

    the causes

    As with other specific phobias, xylophobia can be caused by a number of learned associations about the stimulus and possible damage. In this case, it is associations on forest areas and the elements that compose them (Especially wood) and the associated dangers.

    These associations may be based on real and direct experiences of danger, or they may have been established by indirect experiences. In the specific case of xylophobia, it can significantly influence media exposure in wooded areas, where they are usually portrayed in close connection with imminent dangers, for example, losing or being attacked by an animal or someone.

    When does a phobia develop?

    In general, natural environmental phobias begin in childhood (before the age of 12) and situational phobias it can start both in childhood and after 20 years. Likewise, it may happen that a specific phobia develops in adulthood, even if the non-persistent fear started from childhood.

    The latter has not been studied in xylophobia, but in animal phobias, blood and injections, driving and heights. In addition, when development occurs during childhood and adolescence, phobic fears are more likely to decrease even without the need for treatment; problem that is more difficult to occur in adulthood. It is more common for specific phobias to occur in women than in men.

    main treatments

    Initially, it is important to assess the situation and the feared stimulus to determine the causes. From there things get trickier detect problematic behaviors both cognitively and physiologically and sociallyAs well as the intensity of anxiety responses. thereafter, it is important to analyze the emotional resources and coping styles of the person to know what needs to be strengthened or changed.

    To intervene directly on xylophobia, as well as to treat other specific types of phobias, it is common to use strategies such as the following:

    • Live exhibition.

    • Participant model.
    • Relaxation strategies.
    • Cognitive restructuring.

    • Imaginary exposure techniques.
    • Systematic desensitization.

    • Reprocessing by eye movements.

    The effectiveness of each depends on the specific type of phobia and the particular symptoms of those who suffer from it.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Fritscher, L. (2018). Understand xylophobia or irrational fear of wooded areas. Accessed September 10, 2018.Available at https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-fear-of-the-woods-2671899.
    • Bados, A. (2005). Specific phobias. Faculty of Psychology, University of Barcelona.

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